1603 Ortelius Iceland Monster Map

1603 Ortelius Iceland Monster Map

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Credit: PAUL D STEWART/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: 1603 "Islandia" (Iceland) by the cartographer Abraham Ortelius, Antwerp, 1603. It first appeared in the edition of Theatrum in 1587. Islandia was the first detailed and relatively accurate map of Iceland. The information for it came from Bishop Gudbrandur Thorlaksson who sent it to a Danish historian, Anders Sorensen Vedel. Vedel sent the notes and a map of his own creation to Ortelius. Of most interest to current audiences is the smorgasbord of sea monsters which Ortelius has compiled from naturalists Olaus Magnus, Gesner, Belon, Rondelet and others. He describes them. For example at the top of the map "A. is a fish, commonly called NAHVAL. If anyone eats of this fish, he will die immediately. It has a tooth in the front part of its head standing out seven cubits. Divers have sold it as the Unicorn's horn. It is thought to be a good antidote and powerful medicine against poison".

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Keywords: 1500s, 16th century, 17th century, iceland, islandia, map, marine, monster, mythology, narwhal, north atlantic, olaus magnus, ortelius, sea, seahorse, shark, volcano, whale

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